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Easy Delicious Kale Apple Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

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This Easy, Delicious Kale Apple Salad with Orange Vinaigrette is tossed with crunchy fennel, sweet and tart apples, crunchy pecans, and tart cranberries and topped with creamy goat cheese for the PERFECT Salad full of beautiful flavors that are ready in just minutes. This colorful and festive salad is sure to be a hit! It’s our family favorite!

Large white bowl of Kale Apple Salad with apples and gold silverward

This perfect crunchy Kale Apple Salad with Creamy Citrus Dressing has all the vibes! This is an ideal side salad dish with bright flavors for all your holiday gatherings, and this profoundly nutritious Fall salad is terrific any time of the year. Also, this salad is full of fresh flavor to accompany all your favorite recipes. Served at a buffet or dinner party, it’s the show’s star!

Close up of Large Fall Salad with Pecans and Apples

Simple Kale Salad Ingredients

  • 1 large apple, diced (I used 1/2 Tart Granny Smith Apples and 1/2 Honey Crisp). You can also use Pink Lady Apples.
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 6 cups chopped)
  • 1 large fennel bulb- 1 cup fennel, diced (for that lovely, mild licorice taste)
  • ½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 2 ounces goat cheese (chevre)
  • Extra orange zest for serving –
Ingredients for Fall Salad

Orange Citrus Salad Dressing Ingredients

3 tbsp avocado oil mayonnaise

2 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 navel orange juiced)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp orange zest

1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp coarse black pepper

Possible Substitutions and Tips for Kale Apple Salad

Kale – Kale is a hardy green that requires being massaged in dressing or oil to make it more tender and improve the absorption of vitamins. You can use another type of greens or even Baby Kale, but you must adjust the dressing amount and other ingredients to ensure your salad is balanced. Peppery Arugula or Butter Lettuce is another favorite green that pairs well with this salad.

Apple – I used ½ of a Honeycrisp apple and ½ of a Granny Smith apple. I like the tart sweetness combination in this salad.

Anise-Flavored Fennel – If you dislike the licorice flavor of fennel, substitute celery or cucumber for a crunchy, fresh component.

Pecans – Roasted, toasted, or even raw pecans can be used. Walnuts or chopped almonds will also work.

Pomegranate Seeds – Adding a handful of pomegranate seeds would be colorful and delicious!

Dried Cranberries – Look for apple juice-sweetened cranberries for ingredients free of added refined sugar.

Goat Cheese – I like goat cheese in salads because it is creamy and slightly tart without being overpowering. I purchased goat cheese already crumbled for this recipe because it can be tricky to crumble such a soft cheese, but either pre-crumbled or the log varieties will work. You can also try substituting a sweet white cheddar or blue cheese for a slightly different flavor.

Mayonnaise – Avocado oil mayo is a great option to avoid seed oils; however, regular mayo will also work in this recipe. We love Sir Kensington Mayo which is gluten-free. The mayonnaise makes the dressing thick and creamy.

Maple Syrup – Feel free to start with one tablespoon of maple syrup and adjust to taste. You can always add more maple syrup if you prefer a sweeter dressing. Honey will work as a substitute for maple syrup.

Orange Juice – Store-bought orange juice will work fine, but since we need orange zest in this recipe, using one orange for both the juice and zest makes sense.

Apple Cider Vinegar – White balsamic or regular white vinegar can be used.

Orange Zest – This ingredient is pertinent for the orange flavor in the dressing. Do not skip the zest!

Garlic – Substitute 1 tsp of garlic powder instead of fresh garlic if needed.

Fall Kale Salad with Oranges and Apples

Fall Apple Fennel Salad Recipe Instructions

  • 1. Prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid. Seal the jar and shake the vinaigrette until the mayonnaise is fully dissolved (you can use an immersion or bullet blender instead of a jar with a lid to combine the dressing ingredients). Place the jar sealed in the fridge until ready to use.
  • 2. Tear the kale leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces, rinse it, and dry it using a salad spinner. Place washed kale in a large salad bowl.
  • 3. Pour the dressing over the kale (I usually start with a little over half the salad dressing and adjust based on how much kale I end up with) and gently massage until it is fully coated. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • 4. Cutting around the core, cut the apple and then chopping into about ½-inch pieces. You can alternately use apple slices.
  • 5. Cut the fennel bulb by cutting off the fronds and root, then remove the outer layer and discard. Halve the bulb and then place each half flat-side down. Slice each bulb into ½- inch half-moon slices, then rotate the bulb and cut in the opposite direction to have bite-sized pieces.
  • 6. Place the apple, fennel, cranberries, and pecans in the bowl with the kale and toss so that everything is distributed throughout. Top with crumbled goat cheese, extra orange zest, and serve with any extra citrus dressing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this recipe Gluten-Free?

Yes, this Kale Apple Salad is naturally gluten-free. If you have a severe intolerance or celiac, always verify that any store-bought items are certified gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination.

How can I serve this Kale Apple Salad?

This salad makes a great accompaniment to most dinner mains. Serve it with steak, prime rib, salmon, or pork chops. Bring it to a holiday gathering for a fresh favorite most everyone will appreciate. It can also be prepped and enjoyed for nutrient-dense lunch over a few days. Add some chopped grilled chicken breast for a complete meal.

How do I cut a bulb of fennel?

If fennel is new to you, this might be an intimidating ingredient to prepare. It is quite simple to cut. Here is how to do it: Start by cutting off the fronds (the leafy tops) and root (the end of the bulb). Next, you will want to remove and discard the tough outer layer. Then halve the bulb and place each half flat-side down. Now that you have the bulb separated, you can cut it in various ways depending on the recipe you want to use it in. For this recipe, we need it chopped into bite-sized pieces. To do this, you only need to slice each half of the bulb into ½ -inch half-moon slices and then rotate the bulb and cut in the opposite direction.

Can I use Store Bought Salad Dressing?

Absolutely! I love this Orange Citrus Salad Dressing and think it is worth making, but if you want to save a few minutes, please purchase a store-bought dressing. Look for something slightly sweet and tangy, with flavors of apple or orange to compliment this recipe best. (Make sure it’s gluten-free) Remember, you can make this dressing the day before!
 

How do you Toast Pecans?

Pecans If you have raw pecans, toasting them can be an easy way to bring out the sweetness and nuttiness of the pecans and will only take an extra 5 minutes. Heat ½ tsp of oil in a skillet over low-medium heat to toast pecans. Once hot, place the pecans in the skillet and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally. Once the pecans start to smell toasty, take them off the heat and allow them to cool. Please do not wait for them to turn dark brown or black. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and then add to the salad.

Forkful of Kale Salad

Easy Fennel Apple Salad Variations

  • Try using a different type of nut. Almonds and walnuts will both work well. For a sweeter salad, you can use candied walnuts or praline pecans. We also love toasted sunflower seeds.
  • Swap out the goat cheese for your favorite mild cheese, or use a flavored goat cheese like honey or fig.
  • Use a variety of different sweet and tangy dried fruits. I love dried tart cherries, but dried blueberries, candied oranges, flavored cranberries, or chopped figs would all make tasty additions.
  • Add some thinly sliced red onion or shallot to the salad.
4 Pictures of fall salad with apples and oranges

Kale Apple Salad Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Recipe Tips – As with any salad, feel free to adjust the quantities of each ingredient to suit your preferences. This will be especially important if you use prepackaged kale or another type of greens because the ratio of dressing, toppings, and greens might be a little different. – The total dressing quantity is intended to be used on the salad; however, I would still recommend dressing the salad lightly at first. More dressing can always be added, but you can’t undo it if you have too much. Variations in ingredient sizes can result in a need for more or less dressing.
  • Storage – Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume within two days for best quality. This salad will hold up relatively well dressed because the kale is a little more resilient than other greens, but after a few days, the apples will begin to brown, and the kale will become soggy, so it is best consumed within a day or two of making. The Citrus Orange Salad Dressing can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, making it an excellent recipe to double if you are big on salads. Please give it a solid shake before servings because separation will occur.
Close Up of Tossed kale Salad with Cranberries and Apples

I hope you loved this healthy Fall Salad! If you make it, we always appreciate your 5 Star Review. Here are a few other Recipes you might enjoy! Thanks for stopping by Delectable Food Life.

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Easy Delicious Kale Apple Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Large white bowl of Kale Apple Salad with apples and gold silverward
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5 from 1 review

This Easy, Delicious Kale Apple Salad with Orange Vinaigrette is tossed with crunchy fennel, sweet and tart apples, crunchy pecans, and tart cranberries and topped with creamy goat cheese for the PERFECT Fall Salad full of beautiful flavors that are ready in just minutes. This colorful and festive salad is sure to be a hit! 

  • Author: Sherie Friedlander
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Total Time: 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Salads
  • Method: Chop Salad
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

Simple Fall Salad Ingredients (all available at your local grocery store)

1 large bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 6 cups chopped)

1 large apple, diced (I used 1/2 Tart Granny Smith Apples and 1/2 Honey Crisp). You can also use Pink Lady Apples.

1 large fennel bulb- 1 cup fennel, diced (for that lovely, mild licorice taste)

1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries

2 ounces goat cheese (chevre)

Extra orange zest for serving –

Orange Citrus Salad Dressing

3 Tablespoons of mayonnaise (I used Sir Kensington)

2 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 navel orange juiced)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp orange zest

1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

Instructions

Recipe Card Instructions- Easy Step-by-Step

1. Prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid. Seal the jar and shake the salad dressing until the mayonnaise is fully dissolved (you can use an immersion or bullet blender instead of a jar with a lid to combine the dressing ingredients). Place the jar sealed in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Tear the kale leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces, rinse it, and dry it using a salad spinner. Place washed kale in a large salad bowl.

3. Pour the dressing over the kale (I usually start with a little over half of the salad dressing and adjust based on how much kale I end up with) and gently massage until it is fully coated. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

4. Cutting around the core, cut the apple and then chopping into about ½-inch pieces. You can alternately use apple slices.

5. Cut the fennel bulb by cutting off the fronds and root, then remove the outer layer and discard. Halve the bulb and then place each half flat-side down. Slice each bulb into ½- inch half-moon slices, then rotate the bulb and cut in the opposite direction to have bite-sized pieces.

6. Place the apple, fennel, cranberries, and pecans in the bowl with the kale and toss so that everything is distributed throughout. Top with crumbled goat cheese, extra orange zest, and serve with any extra citrus dressing.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume within two days for best quality. This salad will hold up fairly well dressed because the kale is a little more resilient than other greens, but after a few days, the apples will begin to brown, and the kale will become soggy, so it is best consumed within a day or two of making. The citrus orange dressing can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, making it an excellent recipe to double if you are big on salads. Give it a solid shake before servings because separation will occur.

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